Published On: October 10, 2022

The European Union’s supercomputing consortium has chosen BSC as one of the six centres that will host the first European quantum computing network.

Spain has been one of six European countries selected by the European Union (EU) supercomputing consortium, the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU), to host and operate the first EuroHPC quantum computers. The new infrastructure will be installed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) and will be integrated into the MareNostrum 5 supercomputer, the most powerful in Spain and among the most advanced in Europe, in collaboration with the Institut de Física de Altes Energies (IFAE), and the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), in Portugal.

The new quantum computer to be installed at the BSC will have the potential to significantly increase the impact of research and innovation by enabling solutions that go beyond the capabilities of current supercomputers. The investment, in the case of Spain, will be €12.5 million, co-financed 50% by the EU and the State Secretariat for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (Secretaría de Estado de Digitalización e Inteligencia Artificial, SEDIA), an organization under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.

This milestone is one of the first results of the Quantum Spain program, initiated in 2021 by the Spanish Government through the SEDIA and coordinated by the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES). The program boosts and strengthens the national Quantum Computing ecosystem and aims to reinforce its role in Europe and attract investment to our country, with initiatives such as the one announced now.

The BSC-CNS is a public consortium formed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC).

“This new infrastructure, that will integrate quantum computing with MareNostrum 5, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, will allow us to advance multiple academic applications. This new milestone will enable BSC to play a decisive role in Europe in these new technologies that will be part of the society of the future and reinforces BSC’s role as one of the leaders in supercomputing in Europe,” says Mateo Valero, Director at BSC.

The new European quantum computing network will be available in the second half of 2023, primarily for R&D purposes, to a wide range of users, such as scientific communities, industry and the public sector, no matter where in Europe they are located. The infrastructure brings Europe closer to its digital objectives for this decade, in which the EU aims to be at the forefront of quantum capabilities, relying on national programs already underway, as is the case of Quantum Spain in our country.

In addition to Spain, the other five countries selected by the EuroHPC JU were Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Poland. The new quantum computers will be integrated into existing supercomputers at the respective facilities, forming a broad European network that guarantees users access to different quantum technologies and architectures. The BSC, like the other selected European facilities, will be in charge of operating the new quantum computer on behalf of the EuroHPC JU.

Potential applications of quantum computing

The new quantum computers will address the growing demand for quantum computing resources and potential new services from European industry and academia, adding new capabilities to the European supercomputing network. They are expected to be able to solve complex problems more quickly in areas such as health, climate change, logistics or energy usage.

Potential applications of quantum computing include the optimization of traffic flows and fundamental numerical problems in chemistry and physics for the development of new drugs and materials.

This is a purely European initiative, as the new quantum computers will consist entirely of European hardware and software, leveraging European technology developed under EU-funded quantum initiatives, national research programmes, and private investments.